As the situation in the South China Sea continues to develop, Russia, the United States and China continue to jockey for position. And tension is beginning to brew into what could be a potential conflict, as a prominent analyst has suggested that the United States is taking a hardline approach to Russia and China in both the South China Sea region and the Ukraine.
Tense situation escalates
Bill Jones of Executive Intelligence Review has stated that the situation in both the South China Sea and that Ukraine is incredibly tense at present. And Jones suggested that the conduct of the US administration is certainly not cooling the conflict, with the US instead adopting a posture that could reasonably be described as “playing hardball”.
The Washington government has accused the Beijing administration of carrying out a massive land reclamation program in the Spratley Islands of the South China Sea. Military and intelligence evidence has been provided in order to support this, and based on these documents, it does seem that China has been pursuing a hawkish policy in the region. The United States government contests that the territorial claims of China to the man-made Islands will lead to a militarization of the region, and a hugely increased chance of destabilization.
Ukraine accounts differ
With regard to the Ukraine, this is a highly contentious issue that is seen completely differently by Russian and Western sources. Although the behaviour of Russia in the Ukraine has generally been seen as extremely antagonistic in the West, the issue is often conveyed and communicated completely differently by Russia and its allies. Even Ukrainian sources have completely contradicted the United States administration’s version of events in this conflict.
As the United States maintains a key interest in that Ukrainian situation, the US government has invoked a policy that has deliberately provoked unrest in the eastern part of the crisis-stricken nation. Increasingly, the Obama administration has put pressure on Moscow to help implement the terms of a ceasefire deal that was agreed by both sides in the conflict in Minsk, back in February of this year.
Meanwhile, Jones contends that by massing troops in the Ukrainian region that NATO in general, and the United States in particular, is guilty of escalating the situation, and creating unnecessary tension where none need exist.
South China Sea stand-off
Both of these situations are contentious, but the South China Sea issue is particularly complicated. This is not least because numerous nations in East Asia lay claim to the region, and China appears to be taking a particularly prominent role purely due to its military, economic and demographic advantages.
The issue of boundaries in the South China Sea is not resolved, at least according to the opinion of the aforementioned Jones. While the rhetoric from all nations with an interest in the South China Sea is that this issue must be resolved by negotiations, the behaviour of countries with regard to this region provides a counterpoint to this rhetorical claim.
Jones asserts that the pivot by the US to Asia has created a level of tension in the area that hasn’t been seen in decades. That United States administration has been attempting to forge alliances and allegiances in the region with other players in the South China Sea situation, and these alliances that the United States have sought have always been traditionally against both Russia and China. This has contributed to a tension in the region that is becoming a potential powder keg.
As the United States continues to take an explicit interest in the South China Sea situation, every move that they have undertaken are collectively leading to greater conflict, at least in the opinion of Jones. The analyst suggests that the moves made by the United States have actually extended tensions in the region, as China now feels that it doesn’t have the negotiating conditions available which are favorable to it, thus sabotaging even the possibility of such diplomacy.
Jones concluded his comments by stating that the strategy of the United States in the region should be considered an extremely bad move. Those concerned with the development of geopolitics in the South China Sea region are currently significantly concerned about it, but unfortunately none of those concerned appear to be present in the White House. While Jones attempted to put his concerns about the region in the most neutral language possible, it was clear that he believed that the possibility for real physical conflict and warfare is escalating significantly.
The situation in the South China Sea region is the latest chapter in an ongoing geopolitical conflict between the old world order dominated by the United States and a new power bloc in East Asia. Although the geopolitical picture is increasingly complex, it’s becoming clear that the rivalry between these two competing mindsets, dominated by the United States and China, will be a theme of political manoeuverings all over the planet in the coming decades.
In many ways, this can be seen as a financial rivalry as much as a territorial and military competition. Both China and Russia have indicated the desire to be more proportionally represented in global financial institutions, although their pleas have fallen upon deaf ears thus far. This has led to suggestions that Russia and China could even be essential players in setting up a new central bank system to rival the existing Breton Woods agreement that is exemplified by the Bank for International Settlements.
The situation between the United States and China is further complicated by the fact that the two countries are inextricably linked economically. China owns a huge amount of US debt, and the economic links between the two nations are now extremely well established. Slumps in the Chinese market this week lead to a panic all over the world in global stock prices, and the relationship between China and the United States is certainly indicative of the fact that the world order today is far more complex than a simple bi-polar situation.
As the 21st century unfolds, there will unquestionably be more conflict involving the United States and China, and it seems increasingly likely that the South China Sea region will play a significant role in this relationship.